Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Strategic Planning’ Category

EPA to WA: Get Smarter on Puget Sound Transpo Policy

by Matt Rosenberg November 17th, 2013

For its Environmental Impact Statement on proposed all-lanes electronic tolling of part of I-90, Washington should consider not just a single alternative but a package of them carefully picked from the current menu which includes a regional vehicle mileage tax (VMT), more transit funding, and widening I-90; as well as a broader regional tolling plan, heavier tolling on 520 than now, and a state gas tax hike. So says the Environmental Review Manager of the U.S. EPA’s Seattle-based Region 10 office in a recent letter to the state. Meanwhile, the City of Mercer Island, at the center of growing opposition to I-90 tolls, is voicing support for a gas tax hike alternative favored by the State Senate Majority, while also signaling openness to a compromise involving HOT lanes, or partial tolling on the highway, free to multi-occupant vehicles and available to solo drivers for a toll. Like the EPA, the city is accenting the need to consider several alternatives implemented together.

WSDOT seeks “toll educational” consultant for $2.3M

by Matt Rosenberg August 5th, 2013

The Washington State Department of Transportation is advertising for a contractor to conduct “statewide toll educational services” focused on the fourth of five Puget Sound highways currently designated for electronic tolling, I-405. The $2.3 million sought in “educational marketing” services will be for three years with up to two two-year renewals at an additional premium. Meanwhile, the state continues to explore a more sweeping “vehicle mileage tax” – with an update presented last week to the transportation commission outlining possible technologies and current study timelines.

WA Auditor: New finance IT system could cut waste

by Matt Rosenberg May 9th, 2013

By rustling up $172 million for a badly needed, contemporary enterprise-wide financial management system Washington state government could reap benefits approaching or perhaps exceeding $228 million in saved effort and improved processes, as awkward computer software workarounds, laborious redundancies and other workaday inefficiencies tied to musty legacy software finally get a proper burial. That’s the conclusion of a new 200-plus page performance audit released Wednesday by Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

Doing biz with Washington State too tricky, audit says

by John Stang September 18th, 2012

Getting permits and licenses from Washington’s government is nowhere as simple as it could be, according to a recent Washington State performance audit. A longtime state government goal has been to allow people and businesses who must comply with regulations to go to central Web sites to get all the information they need to meet their legal obligations under the law. That goal is still a long way away. “Doing business in Washington today means sifting through a complex maze of state and local laws and regulations. At the state level alone, someone wanting to open a small convenience store, with a gas pump for example, would have to get regulatory approval from up to a dozen different agencies, in addition to approvals from local jurisdictions. … The challenge is especially difficult for small businesses, usually lacking the resources that enable larger companies to hire attorneys and other specialists to help them comply. When businesses fail to fully comply with regulations, they face fines and penalties,” the audit report said.

Washington State Parks ranks high in visits, vs. U.S. peers

by Matt Rosenberg August 27th, 2012

Washington State Parks ranked sixth out of 50 systems for combined day and overnight visitors, according to the 2012 Annual Information Exchange report prepared for the National Association of State Parks Directors (NASPD) by researchers at North Carolina State University. It is the most recent available; the next version will be published early next year. It shows that despite having just 120,555 acres, less than half the average for state parks systems nationwide, Washington State Parks from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 drew 38.8 million patrons, more than any other states except California, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Illinois.

Green tourism campaign eyes fewer cars to San Juans

by Matt Rosenberg July 16th, 2012

It’s a Pacific Northwest ritual endured by visitors, newcomers and even old-timers who should know better. Book a trip to one of the idyllic San Juan Islands served by the Washington State Ferries’ stolid vehicle-bearing vessels. Then wait for hours in line at the mainland dock in Anacortes, and plot a better strategy for next time. Rinse, and repeat a few summers later. A consortium of San Juans government, tourism, and non-profit officials say there’s a better way, or at least some painless alternatives that warrant stronger promotion. So at a presentation to the Friday Harbor, Wash. Town Council July 19, leaders of the San Juan Islands Scenic Byways Partnership will discuss their plans to accent car-free travel to the popular vacation spots of San Juan Island and Orcas Island, aided by a new, two-year $171,000 alternative transportation grant from the America’s Byways office of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Atop Mount Constitution, Orcas Island/San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

The new grant to promote transportation alternatives comes at a timely juncture.

Seattle Owns Excess Properties Worth Roughly $81 Million

by Matt Rosenberg May 3rd, 2011

SUMMARY: A new annual report shows the City of Seattle owns 212 excess properties or groups of properties with a combined assessed value of $80.9 million. Officials stress that appraisals would be needed to better calculate market values. Twenty-two of the 212 excess properties are under review for re-use or disposal and three have been approved by the city council for sale, though none are currently on offer. The highest-valued is Seattle Public Utilities Eastside Reservoir in Bellevue, assessed at $10.8 million; the next highest is Seattle City Light’s Roy Street Shops at $9.8 million. Other high-valued excess city properties include assorted transportation facilities and electrical substations.